“Who needs them?” I thought way back when I was footloose, single, and caught up in the college scene. “Who needs kids and everything that goes with them like dirty diapers and burp stains.”
When smart phones first came out, I thought the same. “Who needs them? Who needs a phone that can tell you where to go and how to get there, that can turn off the lights and turn on the coffee, that can tell you how to make gumbo that's so good that if someone poured it on your head your tongue would beat you to death trying to get at it.”
Eventually I got both – a son and a smart phone. The son came first, two decades ago. The phone is of more recent vintage. Both son and phone are smart models. As to who needs them, I do. Desperately. I wouldn't trade either for 50-yard line tickets to the Super Bowl, not even if (when) the Broncos are playing.
Parents know that sons and daughters – especially brand-new ones – need lots of love and attention. The love is immediate and constant. The attention is for their own good. Smart phones can be loved, but they don't love back. They do generate attention.
Those using the phones are beneficiaries of the attention. Many are business people or professionals bent on surviving in a tough economy. They need attention. They crave attention. But sometimes the attention they get is not the attention they want.
Successful business people spend time and money building, sustaining and enhancing their public image. They work tirelessly to call attention to the goods and services they're offering. The attention forms their public image, setting them apart from the competition.
Smart phones and other new technology tools are double-edged when it comes to getting attention and creating images. On one hand, new technology expands business horizons. It offers immediacy, mass markets appeal and target audiences access.
On the other hand, inappropriate use of technology can attract unwanted attention. Such attention tarnishes images.
What images are shaped when attention is drawn to someone emailing or web surfing during a business meeting?
What are on-lookers thinking when someone in the audience is playing games on a smart phone while the luncheon speaker is speaking?
What impression is made by people texting jokes and giggling over responses during a sales presentation?
The images generated are images of people too busy to be involved, too self-important to be focused, too self-centered to pay attention to what others are saying or doing. Those aren't good business images.
Effective marketing requires sensitivity, awareness and involvement. Those can't be trumped by new technologies. They can be accommodated. It's good business to stay in touch when not in the office. Image-conscious business people do it discretely. They do it during breaks. If they have an emergency or a problem that demands immediate attention, they do it away from the crowd.
If they have to leave, they do so without calling attention to themselves.
Most programs, meetings and events have a purpose. As community leaders, business people attend to be engaged, to contribute, to be informed, to help make a difference. There are things to be learned, people to meet and problems to be solved.
Smart business people gain attention through their focused participation. Smart business people polish their public image by being a part of solutions. Smart business people control new technology.
New parents quickly learn when to put kids in time out. Smart business people have learned when to put their smart phones on hold.
Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising.
Visit www.comm-concepts.com or call 303-651-6612.